THANKSGIVING AT GILLETTE -- Punter Zoltan Mesko and long snapper Danny Aiken warm up before practice on Thursday.
… On a gorgeous Thanksgiving Day – sunny and seasonably chilly – the Patriots went back outside to practice in helmets, shells, and sweats on the double fields where training camp is normally held.
… The only players missing were linebackers Dane Fletcher (thumb) and Brandon Spikes (right knee). WR Deion Branch was added to the injury report with a hip problem. He was limited in his participation. Eleven others were limited in what they could do today: safety Patrick Chung (right foot), C Dan Connolly (groin), LB Gary Guyton (shoulder), S James Ihedigbo (shoulder), LT Matt Light (right ankle), cornerback Devin McCourty (right shoulder), WR Taylor Price (hamstring), WR Matthew Slater (shoulder), OT Sebastian Vollmer (back), WR Wes Welker (knee), and RG Brian Waters (left knee).
… Before the team took the field, it announced some roster moves. Rookie LB Jeff Tarpinian, who came down with a mysterious illness last week, was placed on injured reserve with what is now being described as a head injury. Tarpinian was coming off his first start – against the Jets – when he was sidelined with this unspecified malady. "Jeff did a good job for us. Really felt like he was coming along," head coach Bill Belichick told a small gathering of reporters at Gillette Stadium. "Last week, he had this thing come up. I'm disappointed for him and disappointed for us, but we have to move on." Belichick added that Tarpinian wouldn't have been able "to participate for a while," so, the decision was made to IR him.
… With Tarpinian's unplanned early exit, expect to see more from veteran Niko Koutouvides, who was brought back just before the Jets game after spending much of the preseason with New England. Belichick praised Koutouvides for his contributions thus far on defense and special teams, both in practice and the past couple of games.
… The transactions continued with safety Ross Ventrone being re-signed to the practice squad and rookie DB Josh Victorian getting the boot to make room. Wide receiver Tiquan "high-top-fade" Underwood also re-signed to take Tarpinian's place on the active roster.
… Meanwhile, down in Philadelphia, QB Michael Vick (ribs) did not practice for the second straight day. That means backup Vince Young will most likely get the start against New England on Sunday. In addition, All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was carted off the practice field after injuring his left knee. His status for the weekend remains unclear at this early stage.
… With cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (ankle) missing practice yesterday and today, too, the Eagles' secondary is thinning quickly, but Belichick wasn't doing cartwheels over the news. "The bottom line is, they have a lot of depth in the secondary anyway," he responded when told of Asomugha's sudden misfortune.
… The news got worse for Philly, as WR Jeremy Maclin (hamstring/shoulder), limited in Wednesday's workout, did not take part at all today; however, WR DeSean Jackson, who didn't play yesterday, did so on a limited basis today.
… On the CBS pre-game show, prior to the Dolphins-Cowboys contest, host James Brown profiled Tom Martinez, personal QB coach for Tom Brady, who's in a fight for his life right now. If you missed it, check it out.